This is the first in a series of pop culture essays. It is written by an anonymous contributor to Boy Android.
When I was growing up there was a phenomenon and running joke that the black guy died first in most action and horror movies; if there even was a black guy in the cast. While watching a recent episode of Dexter I realized people of color don’t last for long on the show. Except for the obvious examples of Batista and Masouka. In fact in the book series the show is based on Lt. Laguerta is killed in the first book and Doakes is severely disabled in the second.
Let’s look at some evidence from the show. Season 1 everyone is safe so far. In season 2 Doakes is framed as the Bay Harbor Butcher and burned to death. Season three features Jimmy Smits is, who is killed by Dexter. Deborah’s boyfriend Anton (played by David Ramsey) survives but is tortured by that season’s “big bad” (played by Jesse Borrego, a Hispanic actor who also dies). Season 4 and 5—no fatalities.
But season 6 is extremely frustrating. Edward James Olmos’ character is dead in Colin Hanks freezer and has probably been dead since before the first episode even aired. And the most interesting character is the reformed ex-con played by Mos Def, who is murdered half way through the season. In season 7 we see Detective Mike Anderson killed in episode 1 with LaGuerta dead by episode 12. Last week Detective Miller—an African American—was promoted to Sergeant (so she’s NOT gonna make it to retirement at Miami Metro).
I mean, Quinn—with all his baggage—survives. Harrison? Not a scratch. Debra, the queen of bad decisions, is still breathing. I wonder if the latter would be true if our boy Dexter had been adopted by a black cop rather than Harry Morgan. I know this is the last season of Dexter, but if the rumored spinoff comes to fruition and it is written and produced by the same people, then actors of color beware! If offered a guest or recurring role: hold onto that paycheck. Invest wisely. Pay off some debt because People of color have had a shorter lifespan that the red shirts on the old Star Trek series. Except for Scottie of course.
So what do you think? Are minority characters still disposable in popular culture? Give me your opinion in the comments below!